Tangle In The Ivy
April 16, 2009
Courtesy of Princeton
The Princeton men’s lacrosse team is ranked No. 1 in both the USILA coaches’ poll and the Inside Lacrosse media poll this week, marking the first time since 2001 that the Tigers have been in the top spot.
Getting there? A 10-1 record, including six straight wins.
Staying there? That’s another story.
To be No. 1 next week, the Tigers have to get past Cornell, a team that is 9-2 and ranked fifth in one poll and fourth in the other. The Big Red is the No. 1 scoring offense team in the country at nearly 14 goals per game and the winner of 17 straight home Ivy League games. Cornell’s last home league loss was to Princeton in 2003, when Ryan Boyle had a nine-point afternoon and Jason Doneger scored seven goals.
Cornell has outscored Princeton by a total of 7-10 in the two meetings in Ithaca since.
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Cornell is 4-0 in the Ivy League, while Princeton is 3-0; they are the only Ivy unbeatens.
Princeton and Cornell clearly have been the dominant teams in Ivy League lacrosse history, as each team has won 23 Ivy League championships. Brown is in third place with six.
Princeton and Cornell first met in lacrosse in 1922. Since then, the series has been one of streaks:
• Princeton won the first four and was 21-1-2 in the first 24 meetings, including a 17-game winning streak at one point
• Cornell won 23 of the next 25 meetings, including 22 straight from 1968-1989
• Princeton won 13 of the next 14 between 1990 and 2003
• Cornell won the next four before Princeton’s 11-7 win at Princeton Stadium a year ago
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A look at the common opponents for Princeton and Cornell reveals ... well, very little.
Cornell and Princeton have already beaten Harvard, Yale and Penn (Cornell has also beaten Dartmouth, whom Princeton has yet to play). Princeton’s three Ivy wins are by a combined six goals; Cornell beat those three teams by a combined 18 goals. Of course, both teams beat Harvard by one on their home fields.
Conversely, Princeton beat Syracuse 12-8, while Syracuse beat Cornell 15-10.
And, lastly, both teams scored 14 goals in comfortable early-season wins over Canisius. Total impact on this game? None.
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Cornell ranks 11th in Division I in face-off winning percentage (.560), while Princeton ranks 34th (.484). John Glynn of the Big Red ranks fourth in Division I, having won 61.8% of his draws, including 67.6% in two games a week ago (15 for 25 against Syracuse; 10 for 12 against Dartmouth).
Cornell won 16 of 21 face-offs against Princeton a year ago, including an 11-for-14 performance by Glynn.
Despite that, Princeton outshot Cornell 37-36 and Cornell only had one more ground ball than Princeton (25-24). Princeton also had one more save than Cornell (10-9).
Cornell also got off to a quick start, with two goals in the first 3:26, before Princeton came back to lead 4-2 at the half and win the game 11-7.
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If you’re looking for an omen for Cornell, it could be this: the last four weeks, the Ivy League Player of the Week has come from Cornell (Kyle Harer), Princeton (Rich Sgalardi), Cornell (Chris Finn) and then Princeton (Tommy Davis).
The Ivy League has awarded a Player and Rookie of the Week eight times this year. Either Princeton or Cornell has had the player six out of eight times and the rookie five out of eight times.
Davis is the current Ivy League Player of the Week after a six-goal, two-assist week in the wins over Penn and Harvard. Davis scored four goals on four shots against Penn, including the game-winner in overtime, and then had two goals and two assists against Harvard.
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Princeton is ranked No. 1 for the first time since the 2001 season.
The Tigers’ first No. 1 ranking (polls were first done weekly in 1973) was on March 22, 1994, meaning Princeton was never ranked No. 1 at any point during its 1992 NCAA championship season.
In all Princeton has now been ranked No. 1 in 24 different weekly in-season polls, including all 10 weeks of polls during the 1997 season. Princeton has played in the regular-season 27 times while ranked No. 1 and is 24-3 in those games.
Princeton’s losses as No. 1 have come to Brown during the 1994 regular season and Virginia during the 1996 and 1998 regular seasons. Princeton came back to beat Brown in the 1994 NCAA semifinals en route to the championship and Virginia in the 1996 NCAA final and then won the 1998 NCAA tournament without playing UVa a second time.
Princeton has twice gone from being ranked No. 1 to No. 2 despite not losing as No. 1.
Princeton began the 2009 season ranked 12th in both the USILA coaches’ poll and the Inside Lacrosse media poll.
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Princeton has won consecutive 10-9 games, defeating Penn in overtime and then Harvard.
As an aside, only once in Princeton lacrosse history has Princeton ever played three straight games that had the exact same final score. Princeton lost to the Druids of Baltimore and Harvard and defeated New York University 3-1 during the 1886 season.
Forgetting that for a minute, Princeton is now 3-0 on the season in one-goal games after going 6-8 in one-goal games the last four years combined.
Bill Tierney is 37-22 in one-goal games as Princeton head coach, including a 14-4 record in one-goal NCAA tournament games and an 18-6 record all-time in overtime games.
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Inside Lacrosse ranked the top freshmen in the country a week ago, and three of the top four will be playing in the Princeton-Cornell game.
Princeton defenseman Chad Wiedmaier was ranked No. 1, followed by Cornell attackman Rob Pannell at No. 2 and Princeton goalie Tyler Fiorito at No. 4.
Those three, not surprisingly, have combined to win five of the eight Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards.
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Browns’ 8-6 win over Harvard Wednesday night officially eliminated the Crimson from Ivy League championship contention. Yale, Dartmouth and Penn are also mathematically eliminated.
Cornell would clinch at least a share of the Ivy title with a win over Princeton.
All three remaining teams (Princeton, Cornell, Brown) can still win the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. All three can also be outright champ, or there could be co-champions or tri-champions.
Penn (2-4) has finished its Ivy League schedule, while Princeton has played half of its Ivy schedule.
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Cornell is the No. 1 ranked scoring offense team in the country (13.9 goals per game). Princeton has played 11 games this season and has held its opponents on average 2.67 goals per game below their current scoring average.
The only two teams who have scored more goals against Princeton than they currently average are Albany (scored 11; averages 10.2) and Penn (scored nine; averages 8.6).
Princeton has played three teams currently ranked in the Top 10 in scoring offense and held those three (No. 3 Syracuse, No. 4 UMBC, No. 9 Johns Hopkins) to an average of 5.4 fewer goals per game each than they currently average.
Princeton ranks seventh in scoring offense (11.9).
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Tommy Davis’ goal in the third quarter of Princeton’s 10th game (it was against Penn) was Princeton’s 118th of the season, which was one better than the entire 13-game 2008 season.
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Princeton averaged 48.2 shots per game with a team .256 shooting percentage for its first six games. During that time, Princeton took at least 50 shots four times.
Since then, Princeton has averaged 30.8 shots per game but with a team shooting percentage of .364. Princeton’s scoring offense has gone from 12.3 goals per game for its first six games to 11.2 for the last five. The 11.2 goals per game is one fewer than the first six, but it would still be the first time since 2003 that Princeton averaged that many.
Princeton has twice taken only 23 shots, but on both occasions turned those 23 shots in double figures in goals (13 vs. Rutgers, 10 vs. Penn).
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Princeton’s shot totals for its first six games: 60-51-34-57-33-54. Princeton’s shot totals for its last five games: 23-42-31-23-35.
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Princeton has played 44 quarters through 11 games (obviously) and has scored at least four goals in 17 of those 44 (38.6%).
Princeton scored at least four goals eight times in 52 quarters for the 2008 season (15.4).
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Princeton has outscored its opponents by a combined 44-13 in the third quarter. The Tigers have scored at least three goals nine times in 11 third quarters.
Princeton vs. Cornell
The site Schoellkopf Field • Ithaca, N.Y.
The date Saturday, April 18, 2009 • 1 p.m.
Radio WPRB FM 103.3; www.goprincetontigers.com
The rankings Princeton: No. 1 (USILA)/No. 1 (Inside Lacrosse)/ Cornell: No. 4 (USILA/No. 5 (Inside Lacrosse)
The records Princeton: 10-1 (3-0 Ivy League)/Cornell: 9-2 (4-0 Ivy League)
The coaches Princeton: Bill Tierney (25th season overall, 269-91)/Cornell: Jeff Tambroni (ninth season overall, 93-32)
The series Princeton leads 36-30-2
Last meeting Princeton defeated Cornell 11-7 • April 19, 2008